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[Page 126]

Activities on Behalf of the Jewish National Fund

ruz126.jpg [26 KB] - Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) Committee in Ruzhany
Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) Committee in Ruzhany

First row, standing right to left: Shmerkowich, –, –, –, Nuchem Alperstein, Yudel Sokolovsky, Gedalia Epshteyn.
Sitting: Yosef Kaplan, Roza Kaplinsky, the teacher Yitzchak Nybursky, Shmuel Mogilnesky, Guldis, Zeev Rushkin, Yona Epshteyn

The activity for the Jewish National Fund broadened from 1924 and on, even though it existed in a restricted fashion prior to then. At that time, the blue box was brought into most of the homes of the town. The boxes were emptied monthly. A prize was given each time to the owner of the fullest box. We organized film days and the sale of stamps.

The living spirit of the activities of the Jewish National Fund was Yaakov Asher Rabinowich. The activists included Asher Epshteyn, Yosef Kaplan, Gedalia Epshteyn, Meir Guber (Mizrachi), Shmerkowich (Revisionists), and -- to differentiate between the dead and the living -- Shmuel Mogilnesky-Magli, Zeev Rushkin, Yosef Egolnik, Efraim Gamerman, Yudel Sokolovsky (Hashomer Hatzair), Elka Rubinowich (Hashomer Hatzair), and others. Also active was Nybursky, my teacher in the Tarbut Hebrew School, and, may he live long, Klicki. The latter served for several years in the Jewish National Fund Central Campaign in general, and in Zionist activities in the city in particular, and he would organize literary evenings, questions and answers on Zionist and general topics that were full of content. There was positive competition between the youth of the Hashomer Hatzair and the Revisionist youth. In truth, we should note regarding this competition that the former had the upper hand with regard to Jewish National Fund activity. Even those townsfolk who were absent from the town all year as students of the seminaries or other schools in Warsaw, Vilna and other places would work with double effort for the Jewish National Fund when they returned to town for the major vacation. Among the activists who were journalists were the brothers David-Noach of blessed memory, and

[Page 127]

ruz127.jpg [29 KB] - Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet)  Brigade in Ruzhany
Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet) Brigade in Ruzhany

{Translator's note: date on photo is 9 Iyar 5688 / 1928.}
The two standing at the top: Yona Epshteyn, Baskha Levinov.
First row, standing right to left: Nachum Alperstein, Moshe Lissobitsky, David Alperstein, Yisrael Belkin, – , Shifra Zazhvir, Chinka Gerbolcki, Aryeh Pitkovsky, Nechama Bashin, – , Chabula Zakheim, Yosef Kaplan, Rachel Chwojnik, Todel Slutzky, Batya Ett (Reiner), Sonia Kaplinsky, Yitzchak Nybursky, Dovka Halpern.
Second row: David Podrevsky, Ethel Vygodesky, Isser Klebensky, Rivka Wynitsky, Malka Segal, Avner Ziskind, Rachel Lissobitsky, Hinda Ditkovsky, Malka Sokolovsky, Chinka Chwojnik, Fruma Gustovsky, Sonia Rizkin, Rivka Shapira, Itka Kaplan, Yentel Podrevsky.
Third row: Hinda Klebensky, Yosef Egolnik, Duba Chwojnik, Zeev Rushkin, Yaakov Asher Rabinowich, the teacher Klicki, Yaakov-Asher Epshteyn, Byulopolski, Rachel Brazovsky, Dvora Skliravitz, Yudel Ditkovsky, Gedalia Epshteyn, Liba Chomsky, Chantsha Bialos.
Fourth row: Leibel Skolnik, Sonia Kolodany, Sonia Itzkowich, Aharon, Rivka Pitkovsky, Libka Chwojnik, Zlata Brouda, Chaim Isser Abramovich, Leibel Rizkin.
The two lying down: Sonia Levenbok, Roza Egolnik

[Page 128]

to differentiate between the dead and the living, Meir Sokolovsky, who were students of the seminary prior to this, and later served as teachers.

Keren HaYesod was also not neglected in our city. The living spirit behind it was Michel Egolnik. He was assisted in his work by Yudel Slutitzky (Yudel Zeidke's) who was one of the simple folk, a tradesman who was very busy, but dedicated with heart and soul to the Zionist idea and the Keren HaYesod. Shlomo Jezernitzky was also active. Dr. Yatom, Shmuel Magli, and others were very active in this realm.

We will return now to the Fund of Redemption[1]. We already pointed out above that Yaakov Asher Rabinowich was one of those most active for this fund. He did not act as a member of a specific party, but rather as an independent activist, a general Zionist, and a person who was acceptable to everybody. He would also visit the weddings of the Orthodox, even of those who were philosophically distant from Zionism, and would collect money for the Jewish National Fund during the celebration. He would also come to the synagogues in which many people were opponents of Zionism, and place a collection plate there on the eve of Yom Kippur. For who would be able to stop him from being there and collecting donations for this holy aim?


The Market for the Jewish National Fund

There were many activities that were conducted by the Ruzhany citizens for the benefit of the fund, but we must point out one activity that surprised them all -- the market (“bazaar”) that was conducted for the benefit of our fund. We worked on the preparations for about half a year. All of the women of the town donated to this activity, giving sheets, tablecloths, and the like. Mrs. Leah Lerman of blessed memory excelled among the active women. She was active, and urged others to activity.

The women baked many cakes as the time of the market approached. The market was set up in the large hall of the movie theater. Booths were set up, and in each booth there were different types of merchandise for sale. The booths were decorated with rugs and other decorations.

The Polish intelligentsia was also invited to the opening. They appeared, headed by the Polish mayor, who greeted the endeavor for which the market was created with warm words.

The market was open for five days, until all of the residents of Ruzhany and the two nearby agricultural settlements visited it. Many residents from the nearby cities, including Slonim, Kosova, and other places, arrived. We collected 1,000 Polish zloty, which was a large sum according to the values of that times. We gave over the money with the request to inscribe Mr. Yitzchak Grynbaum in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund.

Not only did the market raise a large sum of money, but it also provided spiritual sustenance. Each morning of the five days was dedicated to discussions and lectures for the children of the private cheders and the Talmud Torah, who came with their teachers and principal Avigdor Michel Goldberg, and for the students of the Tarbut Hebrew School with their teachers and principal. Each evening of the five days was dedicated to presentations on the Land of Israel for the adults.

The preparations for the market and the market itself strengthened the will of the members for additional work for the Jewish National Fund, and the army of workers grew.

Shmuel Magli

[Page 129]

The General Zionist Organization

The General Zionist Organization in the city mainly included members of Al Hamishmar, which was founded by Yitzchak Grynbaum. It served as the spiritual and organizational patron of all of the Zionist youth organizations in the town, and supported their activities. Its active members Michel Egolnik, Mogilensky, Dr. Yatom and others, together with Meir Guber of Mizrachi organized Oneg Shabbat evenings in the hall that was located in the home of Yaakov Asher Epshteyn. These evenings attracted large numbers of people from the town during the winter months of 1924-1925.

The General Zionist Organization conducted broad publicity activities for the national funds. In 1928, on the occasion of the visit of Mr. Hertzfeld -- a visit that turned into a holiday for the town -- the Jewish National Fund Brigade organized an enthusiastic reception for the guest, with representatives from all of the organizations: General Zionists, the Jewish National Fund Brigade, Hashomer Hatzair, and Hechalutz. The guest spoke in the Great Synagogue on the Sabbath. A banquet took place in his honor on Saturday night. He was registered in the Golden Book as a token of appreciation.

The General Zionists were active in the area of Zionist work, communal activism, and work for Hebrew Culture. They were most active in the communal area at the time of

ruz129.jpg [34 KB] - A farewell party to the Magli family as they make 'aliya' to the Land
A farewell party to the Magli family as they make aliya to the Land

Standing right to left: Yosef Kaplan, –, –, Yonah Epshteyn, Efraim Gamerman, –, Berl Ett, –, Yaakov Asher Rabinowich.
Standing: Roza Kaplinsky, Necha Foksman, Marishka Skliravitz, –, Sonia Limon.
Sitting: Fania Skliravitz, Shmuel Magli, his wife, Moshel Skliravitz (standing), Dr. Yatom

[Page 130]

ruz130.jpg [29 KB] - Hashomer Hatzair at its inception
Hashomer Hatzair at its inception

First row, standing right to left: Oska Kagan, Chatza Berman, Isser Klebensky.
Second row: Zeev Rushkin, Todel Slutzky, David Levinov, Nachum Alperstein, Avraham Karpelewich, Leibel Skolnik, Zeev Brezticki, Eliahu Leviatan, Yisrael Epshteyn, –, Moshe Kamenmostki (Geshuri).
Third row: group heads: Yosef Leviatan, Moshe L. Eisenstein, Yosef Abramovich (head of the brigade), Shasa Pines (his vice), Yosef Egolnik, Zeidel Lerman.
Fourth row: Leizer Kfitz, Asher Kolishevsky, Itzel Limon, Leibel Rizkin, Moshe Leib Shipitzsky, Chaim Pines, Moshe Lissobitsky, David Alperstein, Mendel Slutzky.
Fifth row: Leibel Krashinsky, Gedalia Epshteyn, Aharon Pitkovsky, Moshel Itzkowich

[Page 131]

elections for the Polish Sejm and the Zionist Congresses. Of course, their path was not always paved in roses, and at times they even suffered from disappointment and disillusionment under the oppressive hand of the enemy. For example, at the time of the Sejm elections in 1926, Mr. Mogilensky and the rest the members of the election committee suffered beatings from a member of the Sanacza (Pilsudski's party) who took control of the ballot box and exchanged all of the ballots with ballots of his party.

The crowning accomplishment of the activities of the General Zionists was their cultural work, which expressed itself with the establishment of the Tarbut Hebrew School, which maintained itself with their support.

“HaIvri”, 1919 (14)

Translator's Footnote
  1. The main purpose of the Jewish National Fund at that time was to purchase land in Israel for Jewish settlement. return

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